Friday, January 27, 2017

Rock n Roll Astrology & Rituals

I’m prone to thinking that I’m alone in the zine universe. Very few DIY publications celebrating the unlikely marriage of astrology and contemporary culture come my way. Perhaps they are created on a sizeable scale all over the planet and I just don’t have the skills to trace them. When I occasionally do make a discovery, my insecurities kick in and it becomes a cause for both celebration and trepidation as I now have a yardstick with which to compare my work. Yikes.
Rock n Roll Astrology & Rituals is one such yardstick. A cute and simple hand written-hand drawn zine, it’s the creation of American zinester and astrology enthusiast, Elizabeth Thompson. She describes it as ‘a guide to celebrating rock n roll and all the planets in our solar system’, a description I could easily assign to my own zine, Astrobabble. And like my zine, Rock n Roll Astrology & Rituals celebrates the colossal culture-shapers of our age – Jimi Hendrix, Freddie Mercury, David Bowie, Siouxsie Sioux, Chuck Berry, Brian Wilson and Kurt Cobain –  and pairs them with a planet whose characteristics they share. Here’s Elizabeth’s list:

Mercury - Jimi Hendrix
Mars - Freddy Mercury
Earth - Billie Holiday
Jupiter - David Bowie
Venus - Siouxsie Sioux
Saturn - Chuck Berry
Neptune - Brian Wilson
Uranus - Kurt Cobain
Pluto - Tupac Shakur
Ceres - Patsy Cline

They are interesting pairings, don’t you think? I surmised from my first reading of Rock n Roll Astrology & Rituals that different planets can represent some musicians better, but what do I know? I discussed the pairings with an astro-buddy. After much mulling and debating during a week day lunch, we derived the following list:

Jupiter - Jimi Hendrix
Mercury - Freddy Mercury
Saturn - Billie Holiday
Uranus - David Bowie
Pluto - Siouxsie Sioux
Saturn - Chuck Berry
Neptune - Brian Wilson
Neptune - Kurt Cobain
Mars - Tupac Shakur
Ceres - Patsy Cline
The pairing of planet and musician is fluid. If we are to follow the first rule of Astro Club – that is, an astrologer can make any chart work with the information available (even dirty data) – then any combination of musician and planet is ‘correct’. Despite this, I question Elizabeth’s choice of planet for some of the musicians, possibly because each musician’s work and life speak to us in personal ways.

Take Siouxsie Sioux, for example. Aesthetically, the singer of British post-punk band Siouxsie and the Banshees embodies the qualities of Venus. Stylishly dressed with heavy make-up applied meticulously, Siouxsie is appealing in a feminine way, but she is not submissive or girly. On the contrary, her guise is detached and foreboding - the original Goth. When I first saw Siouxsie and the Banshees’ video for Spellbound in the early 1980s on SBS music program Rock Around the World, I was spellbound by Siouxsie’s appearance. For me, her persona redefined what a ‘rock chick’ could look like (at that stage, I thought female musicians had to look like Suzi Quatro).
While Venus represents Siouxsie’s visual appeal, dwarf planet Pluto best symbolises the woman known for her complexity, controlling nature and aloofness, not to mention her profound influence on a generation of female musicians. In the post-punk music scene of the late 1970s to mid-1980s, Siouxsie and the Banshees were no lightweights. Their songs dealt with subjects that were taboo even in the late twentieth century - mental illness, paedophilia, sexual and emotional abuse, esotericism, and urban discontent. Many of Siouxsie’s songs stem from the psychological damage she experienced when she was sexually assaulted as child. Pluto stuff, indeed.
Putting my two cents aside, Rock n Roll Astrology & Rituals is a little nugget of a zine and a reminder for me to honour other people’s astrological analyses. I enjoy the checklists for each planet/rock star where Elizabeth invites us to do something noble in the spirit of the planet in question. The spec for Venus/Siouxsie Sioux includes:
*telling someone that you love them*
*reaching out to someone new*
*making amends with yourself or someone else*
Rock n Roll Astrology & Rituals is available at